The biggest mover in the GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 poll resides in North Branford, where the Thunderbirds not only leapt five spots from 10 to No. 5 but are cruising through their early season schedule with authority.
North Branford has only gone seven innings once in its six wins, outscoring the opposition 74-1 so far this season. The Thunderbirds have taken the next step in Nick DeLizio’s four years at the helm, winning at least 22 games and the Shoreline Conference title each season.
“We’re getting girls that are dedicated to game of softball,” said DeLizio, who has a 74-12 record in three-plus seasons. “They work hard in offseason and they have passion for the sport. They come in with raw skill and desire; every year the program has been building based on what they’ve done the year before.”
Latest Top 10 Poll: North Branford, Hand rise rapidly
All phases of the game are clicking for the Thunderbirds, who are batting .428 as a team; seniors Olivia Hemstock and Danielle Ramada have combined for 24 RBIs. Junior Amy Raucci is batting .500 while sophomore Kayla Despres has settled into the catcher’s role.
Much run support isn’t required with who is tossing pitches in the circle, though.
It’s been a memorable week for ace Sydney Senerchia, who officially finalized her college plans by signing for St. Peters. Senerchia — who committed to the school last November — plays her AAU ball for the Connecticut Charmers and is off to a torrid start for North Branford. She’s yielded eight hits, one walk and zero runs while striking out 59 batters in 25 innings.
— NBHS Thunderbirds Softball (@NBTBirdSB) April 11, 2018
“It’s an awesome thing and a big moment for the program,” DeLizio said. “She has the talent and work ethic; she works hard and has never settled with success, she kept getting better and better.”
Senerchia was a part-time pitcher as a sophomore and was in a platoon last year before seizing the position just in time for a deep postseason run. North Branford won its third straight Shoreline title before reaching the Class M final.
“You see her come in as a freshman and grow as a player and person,” DeLizio said. “Pitching that well last year I feel gave her that confidence that she can be a Division I athlete.”
The one-run loss to Seymour last June has fueled a fire for the returning Thunderbirds, who are out for the school’s first state championship.
“The girls are motivated this year,” DeLizio said. “They got a taste from the state tournament last year, being in that limelight and showing themselves they can play with anybody in Class M. Falling short of winning; they’re hungry, playing with chip on shoulder and working hard to get back to the same game.”
The Thunderbirds will face off against 5-0 Coginchaug on Monday.
Defending champion Trumbull has established themselves as the team to beat in the conference again behind several routs of league foes. But the picture behind the Eagles is unclear as several schools have claimed key wins, only to drop others.
Town rival St. Joseph is off to a 4-1 start, with the only blemish being a narrow 2-1 loss to Masuk on opening day. The Cadets have a bevy of bats that can do damage, including junior Kaitlyn Capobianco, who is hitting .571 through five games. Catherine Connell and Payton Doiron have split time in the circle.
Danbury is perhaps the biggest surprise of the league so far as a pair of freshman hitting at the top of the lineup. Gianna Iaquinto and Trinadey Santiago have the Hatters out to a 5-2 mark. Ludlowe has also impressed — the Falcons have mashed the ball at points and earned a 5-4 win over the Hatters on Friday to move to 4-1. Norwalk, a strong preseason contender, is off to a 4-2 start.
Trumbull, St. Joseph and Ludlowe are the only teams without a league loss.
5 GAMES TO WATCH
- WATERTOWN AT WOLCOTT, 3:45 p.m., Monday: Battle between two teams that are off to a combined 9-1 start.
- CHESHIRE AT GUILFORD, 4 p.m. Monday: A rematch of last season’s SCC final, won 8-0 by the Rams.
- FITCH AT MASUK, 4 p.m. Tuesday: The Class L powers always seem to find on another in the postseason.
- SEYMOUR AT HOLY CROSS, 11:00 a.m. Thursday: The game that refuses to be played between the NVL rivals due to weather gets a third opportunity.
- TRUMBULL AT LUDLOWE, 4:15 p.m. Friday: Chance for Falcons to establish themselves as league contenders.